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The law, which makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in the state, among other things, was passed by the state legislature in June.
In a press release, the DOJ writes compares Alabama's law with that of Arizona, which it also has challenged in court. "Alabama's law is designed to affect virtually every aspect of an unauthorized immigrant's daily life, from employment to housing to transportation to entering into and enforcing contracts to going to school."
The law "further criminalizes mere unlawful presence and, like Arizona's law, expands the opportunities for Alabama police to push aliens toward incarceration for various new immigration crimes by enforcing an immigration status verification system," the DOJ said.
The DOJ was granted a preliminary injunction against Arizona's immigration law, though Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has said she is planning to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Today's action makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "The department is committed to evaluating each state immigration law and making decisions based on the facts and the law."
Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, said in a statement that "legislation like this diverts critical law enforcement resources from the most serious threats to public safety and undermines the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve."
"We continue to support comprehensive reform of our immigration system at the federal level because this challenge cannot be solved by a patchwork of inconsistent state laws," she said.